A man of many skills...
A man of many faces...
This is a man that we knew by many faces and names: the Student, the Fool, even Cutie Pie! He was the wild card of the Venoms crew, usually acting as comic relief or the "good friend." He charmed us with his dirty-faced, impish heros and drew scores of female fans. On occasion, he stepped outside of his typecast roles and surprised us as a villain.
His fragile appearance was decieving. In truth, only Opera compadres Kuo Chui and Lu Feng could compare to his sheer athleticism. Chaing had stupendous gymnastic skills, and a flair with double weapons of any sort. Kuo said that he and Chiang could do two man routines with up to 200 moves. Put the three together, and the result was visual poetry!
Chiang Sheng was much more than his Shaw career allowed him to be. Chiang was a skillful director and martial arts choreographer. He was also an off beat actor who could have shone outside of the genre. Sadly, the man was locked into his Venoms characters, and never given the opportunity to grow up and show the true range of his acting skills.
One of my favorite scenes with Chiang is not in a Shaw film, but in Ninja's Deadly Trap, which was directed by his friend Kuo Chui. In the scene, Chiang's boyish character is engaged in battle with an enemy. He exhibits much of his usual silly style, then moves into a deadly serious mode as he defeats his opponent. It was a revealing moment to see the quick and uncharacteristic change of pace. It gave a glimmer of what this talented man was capable of.
Like all the Venoms actors, we don't know much about Chiang's personal life. He was born in Taiwan, one of the younger children of a very large family. He was given over to the Peking Opera due to the size of his family and their inability to feed all of their children. Chaing was married, and had one or two children.
After the Venoms were disbanded, Chiang continued with Shaw Brothers for a period of time, eventually returning to Taiwan at the urging of his wife. According to Kuo Chui, Chaing was discouraged by the lack of work, and his marriage suffered, leading to a divorce. Depressed over these problems, Chaing, who had always been a heavy drinker, turned to alcohol even more.
In 1991, Chaing Sheng died of an apparant heart attack, which may have been triggered by alcohol abuse. It was Kuo Chui who voiced the opinion that his friend did not die of a heart attack, but rather a broken heart.
|SWORD STAINED WITH ROYAL BLOOD|
|Big Lizard (Kuo Chui) and Baby Lizard
FIVE DEADLY VENOMS
|Nasty ol' Tien
LEGEND OF THE FOX
|Weapons as a fashion statement:
|Chiang with Chang Cheh and Sun Chien
House of Traps